Survey Sees Farmer Sentiment Drops Further As COVID-19 Concerns On Profitability Rise

May 12, 2020

Corn field In Elkhart County, Indiana.
Credit Samantha Horton / IPB News

Farmer sentiment dropped for a second month in a row in April bringing the Ag Economy Barometer down to levels last seen in 2016. The coronavirus pandemic has caused Indiana livestock and crop farmers to face oversupply issues.

Index co-author Jim Mintert says about two-thirds of farmers are fairly or very worried about their farm’s profitability due to the pandemic.

“Livestock producers are concerned about their ability to have access to beef and pork processing plants to process their animals into products that consumers want,” says Mintert. “And on the grain side, the lack of demand coming from that ethanol sector has had a huge impact.”

Two major pork processing plants in Indiana joined others across the country temporarily closing after workers tested positive for COVID-19.

READ MORE: Governor Holcomb Outlines How – And Why – The State Will Reopen

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Mintert says Hoosier corn farmers are also suffering due to low oil and gasoline prices making ethanol unprofitable and causing plants to shut down or reduce production. 

“Depending on the exact time frame, over 40 percent, sometimes 45 percent of Indiana corn production is processed into ethanol via those ethanol plants,” he says.

Estimates for corn prices have plummeted to their lowest point in the past decade due to the decrease in demand and an expected high yield forecasted for this year.

Agriculture contributes about $31.2 billion into Indiana’s economy annually.

Purdue economists will have a webinar Friday that will further discuss how COVID-19 is impacting the agricultural industry.

Contact Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.